By Sarah Ordover
The continuous frightening reports on long term care facilities leads you to believe that every nursing facility and assisted living is an out of control death trap, seniors lined up with their tickets waiting on that final checkout line. It’s just not the case. I work with just about every legit assisted living center in town and I can tell you, some of them are standing out in their efforts to keep their residents safe.
We have to assume that there’s a higher chance of someone testing positive in a congregate type facility, be it staff or a resident. It just goes with the territory that wherever larger groups assemble it is inevitable that someone is going to test positive. Stopping the spread within a facility, therefore, is a matter of detection and management. I am happy to report there are some assisted living communities in LA that are doing a great job of it. It’s not all bad news.
First, some stats. As of May 1, 2020, LA County listed 217 facilities with one or more positive COVID cases. 146 of the institutions listed were nursing homes, or 67%. Thirty-five are assisted living facilities. That’s sixteen percent. The majority of assisted living communities have no outbreaks at all and a few of them are real stand-outs in their mitigation protocols.
In particular, a small group of boutique assisted living and memory care communities in Mid-City are at the forefront of managing the disease. Melrose Gardens, CityView Senior Living and Garden of Palms, all owned by a management group headed by LA local Avi Heyman, have implemented the most aggressive and pro-active approach to COVID of any property in Los Angeles.
“We are doing the best we can,” says Heyman. “COVID-19 positive cases are inevitable. It’s a question of how we choose to deal with it. We made the choice to get in front of the outbreak, enforcing strict no visitor policies and other measures a full two weeks before it was required.”
What’s impressed me most about this Mid-City group is the level of testing that is going on at all three of their facilities. They managed to track down a large supply of test kits and are regularly testing all 200 of their residents and staff, every single person affiliated with any of the three buildings. So far, two residents have tested positive and sent directly to the hospital. A few staff members have also tested positive and have been asked to stay home with pay. “Paying our staff, even when they have to stay home, is the humanitarian thing to do,” explains Heyman.
Even during the COVID outbreak, I still am moving people into assisted living and memory care facilities. The plain fact is that some seniors cannot stay in a home environment. Their Alzheimer’s disease has become more than can be managed by family. An elderly man has had a stroke and his wife, elderly too, does not have the strength or health to provide for his needs. A senior is living home alone, isolated, becoming dehydrated and without access to regular healthy meals. There are all kinds of reasons that assisted living is a healthier option than trying to tough it out at home. The trick is knowing where to go.
Sarah Ordover holds CSA and DCC certifications in aging and dementia care. As owner of Assisted Living Locators, Los Angeles, Sarah helps families tackle the confusing subject of eldercare honestly and with compassion. With hundreds of clients living inside assisted living and dementia care homes across Metro LA, Franchisee Last Name has unique “on the ground” experience with what is happening inside long-term care facilities during the COVID outbreak.
Based in Scottsdale, AZ, Assisted Living Locators offers a no-cost placement and referral service for seniors and their families providing expert advice on short-term and long-term care options including in-home care, assisted living, memory care and retirement apartments. In 2019, they were named as one of Arizona Business Magazine’s Most Admired Companies and on the prestigious Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies.